Striking doctors reach out to patients for support
As doctors in the capital went on strike for the second consecutive day, many of them took upon themselves to explain the reason behind the shutdown to the many clueless patients waiting outside government hospitals to garner support for their cause.
While many patients and their attendants wondered what prompted the shutdown of healthcare facilities on Thursday as well, doctors from AIIMS stood outside the hospital’s gates tried to explain to them what the National Medical Commission (NMC) bill— which is set to replace the current graft-tainted Medical Council of India (MCI) to regulate medical education, research, and practice— and why the medical fraternity objected to it.
“My sister-in-law is admitted here for a gynaecology surgery, her treatment is going on. But my brother hasn’t been able to see a doctor at AIIMS because of the strike. Why are the doctors striking? Has someone been beaten up?” wondered 46-year-old Kaushal Kishore who was waiting outside the out-patient department building at Safdarjung hospital. He travelled with his family from Asansol, West Bengal three days ago in the hope to get “best treatment”.
A doctor being beaten up was Ramesh Kumar’s— who had come to Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital for the treatment of his 2-year-old daughter suffering from high fever—guess too.
Incidents of violence against doctors have been the leading cause of doctors striking work. Doctors from various government hospitals in Delhi went on three strikes since mid-June to protest incidents of violence.
Many patients also thought non-payment of wages is what caused the doctors to boycott work. “The doctors must not have received their salaries and that is why they are on a strike” said the relative of a patient who was at the emergency department of the hospital for treatment.
In the past, severe fund crunch in the municipal corporations have resulted in several strikes by doctors at corporation-run hospitals who alleged non-payment of salaries.
Attempting to put an end to such speculations and to get the patients on their side, many doctors explained to them the contentious provisions of the NMC bill.
“Do you want an unqualified person to treat you? That is what the government is doing by allowing people who are not trained as doctors to study for six months and treat patients. They will let the jholachaap doctors(quacks), likes of who led to the spread of HIV infection by using a single syringe in Uttar Pradesh to treat all of you,” a doctor, who did not wish to be named, said as she addressed some patients.
“Support our demand. Ask the government why they are not doing anything to call-off the strike,” she added urging the patients to lend support.
She also explained the objections to the proposed National Exit Test (NEXT). “What if a doctor is ill, is depressed, or has lost someone during or just before this very important test? What if doctors are not able to get good scores? Should they not be allowed to study further? Should they not get the opportunity to go to a good college?” she said.